Floods wash away hope of recovery

THE local oyster industry is on the brink of collapse following the third flood in as many months.

The deluge of fresh water has meant farmers have been unable to harvest crops from the Bellinger River they were using to keep their businesses afloat after the Kalang River was closed to farming.

They have their fingers crossed there isn't another flood anytime soon.

“We're all teetering on the edge,” Lindsay's Oyster Barn manager John Lindsay said.

“We haven't got a lot left. I just hope we don't get another flood.”

Mr Lindsay said farmers hadn't been able to harvest for around four months in the Kalang River due to its closure because of water quality problems, and now they have had to watch 'beautiful big oysters' washed out to sea or to the bottom of the river.

“There's not a real lot of assistance we can get,” Mr Lindsay said, adding that they badly needed to have the Kalang re-opened.

NSW Nationals leader Andrew Stoner said oyster farmers in the region were still hurting from flooding rains earlier this year that destroyed much of their produce.

“They really are already on their knees having been badly affected by the two prior floods,” Mr Stoner said.

“Some of their stock has just been washed away.”

He said farmers couldn't rely on taking out loans as they would not be in a position to pay them back.

Mr Lindsay said that there was no indication when the Kalang would re-open. He added oyster farmers 'fared pretty well' in last week's flood as waters rose and fell more gently than in the previous two deluges.

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